Minutes after a fire began to engulf the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Fox News anchor Shep Smith interviewed a man he described as a “French elected official” who immediately characterized the blaze as “the French 9/11” and said only the “politically correct will tell you that it’s probably an accident.”
Actual French officials are still early in the process of determining the exact cause of the fire ― but that didn’t stop America’s most-watched cable TV news source from amplifying the fantasies of a conspiracy theorist.
As it turns out, Smith’s guest, Philippe Karsenty, is no elected official. A basic Google search reveals that he is a media analyst and conspiracy theorist who was previously convicted of defamation for making false accusations against a French TV network.
Smith cut him off, but the damage was done.
A surreal moment on Fox, Shepard Smith has to abruptly end an interview with a French elected official who says about the Notre Dame fire that the "politically correct will try to tell you this is an accident" pic.twitter.com/aUwoH7YVpl— Tyler Monroe (@tylermonroe7) April 15, 2019
Inadvertently or otherwise, Fox News had joined a conspiracy chorus that hummed loudly in the minutes after the fire broke out.
Those looking to social media for answers would find white nationalists like Faith Goldy or Infowars writer Paul Joseph Watson claiming that the fire was deliberate.
They’d find far-right chuds like Twitter user @Partisangirl declaring matter-of-factly, to 112,000 followers, that French President Emmanuel Macron “has probably set fire to Notre Dame to try and make the yellow vests look bad,” referring to the protesters who have beleaguered his regime of late.
Officials initially said that the fire was “potentially linked” to renovation work in the building.
see what they are doing here pic.twitter.com/IZRE4SyyE9— Michael Bueckert (@mbueckert) April 15, 2019
Those who sought out news on YouTube were met with videos of...